Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Uganda: The Politics Of Distraction

Update: It's hard to know what is happening with this story. Fagburn will come clean and say he is not an expert on Ugandan law - but it seems the resurrection of this bill may have been hyped up. Yours - as ever - in scepticism.
Update 2: Looks like the bill has gone, at least for now...

Ugandan police have sprayed opposition politicians with a pink liquid to stop them holding a rally in the capital, Kampala.
An interesting choice of colour, I'm sure you'll agree.
They got off lightly.
At least ten people were shot dead by police in riots in Kampala last month, according to Amnesty International.
The government has recently outlawed all protests.
And people in Uganda have a lot to protest about right now.
Inflation and unemployment are high, and there has been a steep rise in fuel and food prices.
So what does the Ugandan government do?
It resurrects an old "Anti-Homosexuality Bill".
The bill calls for life imprisonment for anyone convicted of "the offence of homosexuality", and the death penalty for "aggravated homosexuality", such as having gay sex when HIV positive, or with a minor.*
The bill also proposes banning "the promotion of homosexuality".
I wonder where they got that idea from?
It is unclear if MPs will get to vote on the bill before the current parliamentary session ends this week, or after a new parliament is sworn in next week.

Regular updates here.

• 'Ugandan Spring? Instability Spreads To East Africa' Stephen Roblin, ZNet.
An online petition currently has over 800,000 signatories.
Not sure if this will make any difference - and as reactionaries in Uganda are trying to equate being pro-gay with colonialism it may do harm.

* There's a PDF of the original bill here. Spoiler alert: It's depressing as fuck.

Update: It's probably not happening.

1 comment:

  1. We only have hours left -- the more of us that sign, the more powerful our voices will resound. Send the email below to friends and family, and post this link on your Facebook wall.

    Then click here to call on your government to take urgent action:


    Thanks again for your help,

    Emma, Iain, Alice, Morgan, Brianna and the rest of the Avaaz team


    Dear friends,

    In 24 hours, the Ugandan Parliament may vote on a brutal new law that carries the death penalty for homosexuality. Thousands of Ugandans could face execution -- just for being gay.

    We've helped stop this bill before, and we can do it again. After a massive global outcry last year, Ugandan President Museveni blocked the bill's progress. But political unrest is mounting in Uganda, and religious extremists in Parliament are hoping confusion and violence in the streets will distract the international community from a second push to pass this hate-filled law. We can show them that the world is still watching. If we block the vote for two more days until Parliament closes, the bill will expire forever.

    We have no time to lose. Almost half a million of us have already joined the call -- let’s get to one million voices against Uganda's gay death penalty in the next 24 hours -- click here to take action, then forward this email to everyone:


    Being gay in Uganda is already dangerous and terrifying. They are regularly harassed and beaten, and just months ago, gay rights activist, David Kato (pictured above), was brutally murdered in his own home. Now LGBT Ugandans are threatened by this draconian law which imposes life imprisonment for people convicted of same-sex relations and the death penalty for “serial offenders”. Even NGOs working to prevent the spread of HIV can be imprisoned for “promoting homosexuality” under this hate-filled law.

    Right now, Uganda is in political turmoil -- in the wake of the Arab spring, people across the country are taking to the streets, protesting high food and gas prices. President Museveni has responded by violently cracking down on the opposition. This upheaval has provided religious extremists in Parliament the perfect chance to slip in the shelved anti-gay bill just days before Parliament closes and all proposed laws are wiped from the books.

    President Museveni backed away from this bill last year after international pressure threatened Uganda's aid and support. With violent protests sweeping the streets, his government is more vulnerable than ever. Let's build a million strong petition to stop the gay death penalty bill again and save lives. We only have 24 hours -- sign below, then tell friends and family:


    Earlier this year, we stood in solidarity with Uganda's equality movement to show that every human life, no matter what creed, nationality or sexual orientation, is equally precious. Our international petition condemning the gay death penalty law was delivered to Parliament – spurring a global news story and enough pressure to block the bill for months. When a tabloid newspaper published 100 names, pictures and addresses, of suspected gays and those identified were threatened, Avaaz supported a legal case against the paper and we won! Together we have stood up, time and time again, for Uganda’s gay community -- now they need us more than ever.

    With hope and determination,

    Emma, Iain, Alice, Morgan, Brianna and the rest of the Avaaz team


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    Pulling Out All the Stops to Push an Antigay Bill